Well, 2022 has closed and 2023 is in motion. As we reflect on all the great music we heard last year, we thought we’d compile a list of some of our ten favorite Tyscot Records releases of the year.
1) Bishop Leonard Scott / Kelontae Gavin - Pass Me Not. Sometimes you’ve got to go back to the old landmark and appreciate the songs that brought our ancestors through many trails and tribulations. Bishop Leonard Scott’s “Keep Hymns Alive” album featured this majestic 1868 hymn with just piano and the wonderous, melisma-filled voice of 23-year-old Kelontae Gavin.
2) JoJo Martin – Temporary Tears. PJ Morton’s protégé and former background singer, showed out on his debut solo album. This title track features a sample of Bishop Paul S. Morton’s 1993 cut “Your Tears” at the opening but swiftly segues into a slick contemporary track with hints of Hip-Hop programming that lies beneath Martin’s smooth vocal as he sings of loss and the ensuing tears as only temporary.
3) Melissa Bethea – Awesome. JJ Hairston’s former background singer and occasional featured artist, steps into the spotlight with this catchy Afrobeat that was composed by Rihanna’s Rude Boy composer Makeba Riddick alongside seasoned gospel producer/songwriters Clarence Singleton and Eric Davis. Bethea’s power-packed vocals carry the song and the rhythm and make this a danceable treat.
4) Jason Nelson – Close. The coolest crooner in gospel, Jason Nelson showed that he can work an up-tempo on this slick Adult R&B styled groove about deepening a relationship with the Most High.
5) Bishop Leonard Scott - Storefront Praise Medley. The Hymns Professor, Bishop Leonard Scott drives us all the way down memory lane with this fun, festive, old school religion mash-up of hymns.
6) Ruth La’Ontra - He Did It Again. One of the millennial generation’s greatest voices, Ruth La’Ontra released her first new music since 2017. The mid-tempo track pairs her with the up-and-coming group, Thomas & The Situation. Ruth’s soprano is at times, Jazzy, Churchy, and always enthralling.
7) Semaje – I Rely. The Motor City has produced another musical ambassador with this 30-year-old tenor who was weaned on C.O.G.I.C. church chirpers such as Kierra Sheard, Deitrick Haddon, and The Clark Sisters. He approaches this sterling soul ballad about reliance on God with all the vocal finesse and technique one would expect from Detroit.
8) Mervin Mayo - The Best Friend. The Richmond, Virginia policeman went viral back in 2020 singing a Marvin Sapp joint on Facebook, but he went centerstage in 2022 with his own track that has snared 2 million online streams. The ballad about God being man’s best friend is acoustic, lite and poignant. Mayo’s gruff baritone adds another layer of emotion to a track that already brims with deep devotion.
9) Bishop Leonard Scott / Sherwin Gardner - Rock of Ages. Another selection from Bishop Scott’s acclaimed hymns project is this captivating, piano-centered rendition of a classic hymn by one of the Caribbean’s most popular worship leaders, Sherwin Gardner.
10) Jojo Martin – Nobody Knows. “Never judge a book by its cover and don’t compare yourself to another,” Martin sings on this acoustic guitar-strummed ballad about learning to survive heartache and pain.